7 products at the grocery store that will improve your diet
If you follow my column, you know that I love finding new convenience products that add variety to a nutrient-dense diet. These aren’t intended to take the place of daily staples like lean proteins, fresh produce and plant-based fats, but they can help mix things up a bit within a still-nutritious diet.
Here are seven of my latest good-for-you finds from stores such as the local supermarket, Target, Costco and Whole Foods Market. Each of the product websites has a locator feature to help you find it in your area; some are only available online. As always, if you don’t see an item in your local grocery store, you can always ask the store manager to stock it.
Old-school push-up pops meet the protein shake with these high-protein frozen “smoothie” tubes.
Fortified with whey protein concentrate, each 140-calorie pop has 20 grams of protein – about what you get in three eggs or three ounces of lean meat. Sweetened with stevia and cane sugar, the sugars are a little high at 13 grams, but it’s mostly natural sugars from skim milk and whole milk (the first two ingredients listed).
Available in Dutch Chocolate, Vanilla Bean, Blueberry Pomegranate and Banana Vanilla. I’ve found these locally at The Fresh Market; $5.99 for a box of three.
Think Dove Dark Promises or Andes Chocolate Mints – but good for you.
With just two ingredients: raw cacao and raw agave nectar, the folks at Go Raw have managed to create a rich, smooth chocolatey treat, individually wrapped in squares that offer built-in portion control. Each piece has just 32 calories, 5 grams of carbs and 3 grams of sugar. The fact that they use raw cacao, not roasted, helps to preserve its naturally high concentration of antioxidants.
Available locally at Whole Foods Markets (look for the Ochsner Eat Fit tag) in Super Raw Chocolate and Mint Raw Chocolate, these chocolate bites are a bit on the pricey side, but that can help incentivize us to limit ourselves to just one piece. $5.99 for a pack of six.
I’ve sampled a lot of different protein powders over the years, and I’ve found that plant-based protein powders have always been a challenge – they don’t generally dissolve as well as whey protein, so they tend to be a bit gritty and the flavor often isn’t so fantastic. There are a few that I’ve found that I like, but this Classic Plus Organic Raw Plant-Based Protein Powder by Sun Warrior blows them all away.
The chocolate flavor is my favorite – it’s super rich and chocolatey, dissolves as well as many of the whey protein powders, and its nutrition stats are excellent: 100 calories, 17 grams protein, 4 grams carbs, 3 grams fiber, and zero sugar. Ingredients include a vegan protein blend of pea, brown rice, quinoa, chia and amaranth, with a bit of sea salt and stevia.
Use it in smoothies, baked goods, or even coffee. I like to stir a scoop into unsweetened almond milk for a protein-rich iced coffee. (Side note: I’ve tried the Warrior Blend by Sun Warrior and didn’t like it nearly as much, so if you’re going to check it out, I highly recommend Sun Warrior’s Classic Plus variety).
Available locally at Whole Foods Markets and GNC stores. $27.99 for 20 servings.
This is one of my favorite Costco finds: refreshingly tasty low-sugar cold-pressed vegetable and fruit juice blends with just 15 to 40 calories per bottle. In flavors like Green Lemonade + Cayenne, Lime Basil, Watermelon-Hibiscus, Jicama-Blue Majik, and Orange Turmeric, each has some type of “green” like blue-green algae, spirulina or chlorella powder, but they all taste like variations of lemonade. And they’re stevia-sweetened, with no added sugar at all.
Available at Costco in five varieties: $14.99 for 10 bottles.
These soups caught my eye because they’re refrigerated in the produce section, not on the soup aisle. A closer look revealed veggie-heavy ingredients that we could have in our own kitchens, all natural, no preservatives, and really loaded with vegetables. Sold in glass bottles, these soups can be served heated in a bowl like regular soup, or sipped chilled straight from the bottle like a vegetable juice.
My favorite is Kitchen 22’s Kale Peas Broccoli Spinach soup, made with a puree of veggies, seasonings and a touch of cream and sea salt. Per 16-ounce bottle (which could easily be two servings): 160 calories, 2 grams saturated fat, 530 mg sodium, 3 grams fiber.
Available locally at Rouses Markets; $5.99 per 16-ounce serving.
I love croutons. Love them. But typically the only way to have whole grain croutons is to make them yourself, since store-bought croutons are almost always made with enriched wheat flour (translation: white flour). So I was happy to find these little guys, made with ingredients like whole grain spelt flour, whole grain quinoa, whole grain amaranth, and no white flour.
Each two-tablespoon serving has just 35 calories with four grams of carbs and 70 mg sodium.
Available in Aged Parmesan, Garlic & Butter, and Seasoned varieties, these whole grain croutons are available locally at Fresh Market. $6.98 for 16-serving bag.
These aren’t new, but some of the flavors are new (or new-ish) to our local Target stores (Watermelon, Ginger Peach, Raspberry-Blackberry and Grapefruit are among my faves). If you like sparkling water, you’ve got to try them – they’re even more flavorful than other similar brands, and still all-natural: just water and natural flavor essences.
$2.99 for pack of 8.
Editor’s note: Registered dietitian Molly Kimball offers brand-name products as a consumer guide; she does not solicit product samples nor is paid to recommend items.